The Italian Air Force welcomes the first F-35A delivered outside the U.S.

The first F-35 delivered outside the U.S. was taken on charge by the Italian Air Force.

On Dec. 3, Lt. Gen. Pasquale Preziosa, Chief of the Italian Air Force, welcomed the first Italian F-35A at the F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy.

Not only is the AL-1 (as the aircraft is designated) the first F-35 for the Italian armed forces but it is also the first assembled and delivered outside the U.S.

With the delivery of its first aircraft, Italy becomes the sixth nation to receive an F-35 joining Australia, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and the U.S. that already operate the aircraft at various airbase across the United States.

The aircraft for the Italian Air Force, that made its very first flight from Cameri airbase on Sept. 7, it’s the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled at the Italian FACO that will assemble all the remaining F-35A and F-35B for the Italian Air Force and Navy, and build F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

AL-1 will be delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in 2016 (with the support of an Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker, the first international tanker to refuel the JSF) where Italy’s first two pilots have recently begun F-35 flight training..

Italy is a Tier II partner in the F-35 program. So far, the Government has invested 3.5 billion USD in the program with an industrial return, in terms of contracts signed, that amounts to +1 billion USD.
That said, industrial participation in the program includes Alenia Aeronautica supplying wing sets (about 75% of Italy’s participation in the program) and other companies of the Finmeccanica group supplying work on some of those quite critical systems, including the EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System).

Despite the cuts, the program has attracted a significant chunk of Italy’s defense budget: for this reason the F-35 surely the most famous defense program in Italy. And the most controversial. So much so that it has become a very “sensitive” subject.

A large part of the public opinion, as well as many Italian lawmakers are against it, because they believe that the about 13 billion Euro for the F-35 and no significant industrial gains can’t co-exist with the country’s fragile public finances. However, as a consequence of the cuts (from 131 to 90 examples, with the “promise” to consider more cuts if needed), the assignment of the European FACO to Cameri, and a significant investment already done (Rome remains the second largest contributing partner after the UK) the Italian Government has been able to save the F-35 and ensure the Italian Air Force its 5th generation aircraft to replace the ageing (and for this reason costly) AMX and Tornado fleets, and the Navy its F-35Bs to replace the AV-8B+ Harrier jump jets.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin’s Thinh Nguyen


About David Cenciotti 4417 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


  1. how costly is an AMX exactly? is it more than the estimated $31k per hour of the F-35

    • The light attack, subsonic, not stealthy AMX?

      It’s basically an A-4/A-7 type of jet.

      It is NOT a fighter.

      • who called it a fighter anyway? you forget that AMX IS cheap to operate, and performed well in various conflicts. More importantly, it works NOW.

  2. A plane that can barely take 7Gs…
    And is projected to reach only 9.
    This plane is a threat to it’s owner.

    • Correction. F-35A has already been tested and showed that it CAN reach 9gs. The B and C variants have also been tested out to 7.5g… that is equal to an older legacy Hornet or Super Hornet. Of course how many G and aircraft can pull isn’t actually telling of its maneuverability.

      and what is with, “And is projected to reach only 9”? You make it sound like its a bad thing. To my understanding that is the limit at which all current high performance fighter aircraft can do without exposing the pilot to unnecessary risk.

      • First, I’d like to state that I am from a country that manufactures the f35; Italy, although I am also French by birth, so I really am not into the nationalistic thing, on this matter, and judge on the info and knowledge I have.
        The rafale is qualified up to 11g.
        And I couldn’t find the russian figures but my bet is they’re quite sturdy too.
        The point is:
        I see too many limitations on that aircraft.
        I have read about how manoeuverability wouldn’t matter because it was a strategy changer, that wouldn’t need to evolve in 3d since it would all be done from a distance or under the invisibility cloak.
        It can be stealth, provided it doesn’t carry too much, and all internal;
        It can engage aerial threats, provided they don’t come equipped with METEOR class missiles ( the range of these things), and there’s not too many of them;
        It can take off vertically, provided you come equipped with an ad hoc launch pad ( bye bye field operations);
        It’s fuel needs to be cooled;
        It’s helmet is having the pilots bump their heads at random on the canopy;
        Additional minor issue cracks were discovered just days ago;
        and now the seat would kill any pilot under 63 kg.
        It is supposed to replace a wide variety of planes, but will not be either as accurate or as many as they were, think A-10 here.

  3. Yes sure in Italy we love this plane as a pain in the ass.
    And we are not pacifist! We want simply good fighters, and this is not!
    We simply consider as “advertising” the quality claimed by LM, we know that is not really so invisible is in the best option VLO, but a bad vlo because this plane born aged the RCF well known. Climb turn? Guy’s is really a brick or a lemon as someone has told
    It will be able to kill enemy BVR? Will be better otherwise you are flying in a coffin , dead meat!
    BUT IS BUSINESS AND FOR THIS REASON will be build and sell.
    I judge my politicians corrupt to have bought this real crap plane.

    • Giuseppe don’t worry – air superiority and ability to prosecute an attack at anytime in any AA/AD environment will be the best in the world. Save your Eurofighters for gun on gun dog fights and all that Testosterone stuff.

      Keep in mind F35 will multiply the effectiveness of your existing fighter fleet.

      Let all of these simpletons keep commenting about g-forces and climbing, turning, etc.. its one hell of a plane but those basic combat maneuvers were not its main design goal.

      PS. think it has no power? This is from Miramar a couple months back.

      • Eurofighter has further reaching BVR missiles, (way)more capacity to carry them, is a swing role fighter, can hit targets deep in enemy territory by launching cruise missiles, it’s short range missiles can be used to intercept missiles fired upon it.

        All for half the purchase price of an F35 and half the operating costs and mission cost, where the Eurofighter could be deploied without the need of an escort.

        To be fair they have told they need the F35 to replace the Tornado and the Harrier. I would have limited the purchase just for our (small ) carrier. there seem to be a very limited number of missions where you would rather send an F35 over an Eurofighter (or a Tornado)

      • Multiply? For now you can’t make it fly in more than a pair… or the system will drowned by false alarm, correct? Marines fly the F-35 only in pairs to avoid to have multiply detection problems, and you must remember to purge the tanks often do risk to explode in flight.
        I have good reason to be worry, the modification requested from the original project have dramatically changed performance and VLO level.
        Miramar? Ok not so bad, but this is advertising for the general public
        we know that the things that matter in combat are different from a show.
        All the boys like to make a fuss with the bike!
        I am not worried from comments by simpletons but from the comments of technicians that explain in detail what the problems of radar footprint and everything else are again present!

        • “Marines fly the F-35 only in pairs to avoid to have multiply detection problems,”

          Software 2b has the issue of complete fusion within a 4 ship flight. USMC has worked around this by flying TWO 2 ship flights and having an aircraft from 1 flight pass information to the other flight. The next major software upgrade 3i (which the USAF has already received with 2 F-35As at Hill AFB) is supposed to resolve those issues with 3i being the USAF IOC software.

          “I have good reason to be worry, the modification requested from the original project have dramatically changed performance and VLO level”

          According to recent comments of USAF Gen Mike Hostage, the F-35 is more stealthy than the F-22 (possibly because of all around RCS or its natural passive detection combined with sensor fusion allows it to detect threats earlier thus better at avoiding detection).

          “Miramar? Ok not so bad, but this is advertising for the general public
          we know that the things that matter in combat are different from a show.”

          yet you’ll here every F-35 hater out there saying that a clean F-16 or Super Hornet will whoop the F-35’s butt yet when compared operationally, they are of very comparable physical performance levels.

          “I am not worried from comments by simpletons but from the comments of technicians that explain in detail what the problems of radar footprint and everything else are again present!”

          So am I… unfortunately its comments and “analysis” BY SIMPLETONS is what a vast majority of the general public knows about the F-35. If you believe Air Power Australia is good then it should worry you to know that the Vice Air Marshal of the RAAF (you know… a high ranking individual that has the inside track of things) dismissed comments and “analysis” by Air Power Australia.

    • It is a lousy fighter indeed.

      What would it cost Italy to abort its order ?

      Of course there’s the need to replace the aging Harriers but they are flying from an also aging Giuseppe Garibaldi (more than 30 years of age). The Cavour is more recent. Could it be retrofitted to launch navalized Gripens or even Rafales ?

      No matter how, almost any fighter would be better than the F-35.

      • half loaded typhoons may be able to take off with the ski jump. I say buy more Typhoons and keep a/c manufacturing technology in Europe. it would be nice to see an uprated version of the EJ200 as well

      • I was present when the Cavour take the sea for the first time, and was already clear that the flight deck was unsuitable for this plane

        It will melt just below the vertical jet F- 35 is necessary rebuild it
        another time and I ask why, they know that the plane need another kind of coating.
        With an Harrier is different , we know that the temperatures involved
        are far lower .
        Giuseppe Garibaldi has suffered damage to the hull when it has been
        grounded to Valona (what a shame!) and will never fly F-35, is almost ready
        to be dismissedm if they do not do a low level recostruction!

  4. This is one of those times when one can take no pride in being the first (facepalm)

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